Cruising Maintenance Magic

November 25th, 2021

Well, at least one trick. Working on our home often means working in uncomfortable places (Boat Yoga) and doing near impossible jobs. Here is where the trick comes in.

If you haven’t discovered Butyl it is time you do. The stuff is magic. First it is even sticky when wet. I was searching for an impeller blade in my heat exchanger. I didn’t want to remove the exchanger and plumbing. It was wet still in where the blade had settled. I could feel the blade in the opening but couldn’t retrieve it. I tried a thin wire, tried an allen wrench, everything I could think of I tried. Then the light bulb went off! I took a small piece of Butyl and stuck it to the end of my finger. Then gingerly dipped my finger in the hose opening, pressed to the blade and slowly, slowly withdrew my finger with the blade attached. Voila!

 Butyl keeps screws in place.

Today I was twisting around in a small area working in the electrical cabinet. I had a terminal strip in there where I would make multiple electrical connections. Those damn small screws are real PITA! I remember Butyl. A little dab will do you. About the size of a pin head I stuck it in the screw slot. Then insert the driver and bingo! I could hold the screw in place until I could begin to thread it in. What a life saver.

So; do yourself a favor, find where Butyl is sold near you and pick some up. That is; if you want to make short work of frustrating projects.

 

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Something’s all Happening at the … Boat.

November 16th, 2021

Progress! We’ve removed over 1/2 the external teak coating and are making progress towards a new protective… good looking coating. Two reasons: first is that after 15 years the fixes and many spots were failing, and second; the Honey Teak coating is no longer available. If it would be available, shipping to Australia would be expensive and time consuming. We are using a clear epoxy coating that is advertised to last 5 years. We are hoping for 3 years. While we are removing the old coating on the boat I removed the anchor roller nose piece. When I had it made in Annapolis I messed up and the rollers were not aligned right. Our Steel (SS) shop has already modified it and it is now ready to reinstall.

Beyond that we’ve sold one of the items we bought for comfort and our time here. So…. basically…. beginning to downsize… back to cruising mode. Just a little! 🙂

We’ve removed the SailoMat Wind vane and disassembled it. I really, really, REALLY, get annoyed when companies use Aluminium (Al) and SS together. The base of the unit could have been cast in Bronze and I doubt it would have cost significantly more. It would have lasted better, required no paint. Stainless Steel and bronze like each other better than Al and SS. The painting we did in Panama was peeling and corrosion was having a field day with the Al. I was able to disassemble all except one bolt. That needed a larger impact driver than I had. I hauled it to a local machine shop one morning and boom, $10 AUS later the bolt was out.

From there I drove 5 minutes to a local blaster for cleaning all the corrosion and paint off. Five pieces plus priming ended up being $100 AUS. Three doors away there was a powder coater. All 5 pieces cost me…… get this….. $50 AUS. Next step, re-assemble and install.

Green is Firm, Beige is Memory

Inside the boat we are having some new foam for the main salon seat cushions. The foam we changed to in Panama was too firm and when offshore sleeping; for me, it was like sleeping on a rock. We’re adding 2” to the over all thickness and making one side firm and the other memory foam. Turn it over for sleep and keep the firm foam on top when in port. Hopefully, this is a good compromise for sleeping offshore and sitting / lounging in port.

We purchased a Vesper AIS XP-8000 setup. We need this for heading to SE Asia and this system will integrate well with how we navigate.

10 mm Hayn Rigging Cones

The cones for the rigging are in Australia. I was contacted by the importing agent (Vanguard) for the paper work. I don’t know if I told you, I screwed up… again! 🙂 If I would have had the order broken into two shipments I could have avoided the duty. Australia charges duty on anything over $1,000 AUS including shipping. They call that “High Dollar”.  And further they do not recognize “Yacht in Transit” for the boat. Anyway, the order was something like $100 US dollars over a the $1,ooo  AUS so we now pay an agent plus AUS duty and GST. Total: an extra $380 AUS. Live and learn. Tis a good thing I ordered these parts in June. It will be close to 6 months before we receive them and can begin any of the rigging project.

For the most part, things are looking up. The boat is getting cruise ready again. Everything we need to finish is now here in Australia. Both of us are getting itchy feet. Especially, as I go through our pictures of where we’ve been and the adventures we’ve had. The website has been eating up my time. I have new galleries of French Polynesia, the San Blas, Fiji, and Vanuatu up. A few hundred images so if you’re bored any time and want some far away place to dream of; have at it.

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Biding our Time

October 18th, 2021

it has been awhile. I guess I need to just stop apologizing and blog when ever I am thinking of something. I’ve been working long hours on the website. Thus I have two new larger picture galleries . One, of our travels though French Polynesia and the the other of our three visits to San Blas islands.

Trying to play catch up on web stuff is not easy. I now know a little of the web add ons. The styling part called CSS, and even less of some of the under the hood programming for the web, called JavaScript. But, like the turtle in the classic race with the hare, I will keep trudging on.

Then too is our time here in Australia dealing with Covid. While the Covid fight hasn’t effected us all that much, it is effecting other cruising friends. One, who I will not name, is going to ship his yacht back to the Caribbean at great expense. I asked him about it and he said; he’s not having any “fun” now. A sad point to be at in life. I understand.

Fortunately, both W/ and I are having fun. We enjoy the boat projects. We don’t want to work full time on them but improving the boat and keeping it looking; in our minds good, is important to us. We play tennis 3- 4 days per week and have met a great group of Australians. None of whom are yachties, but that is how we like it. We cruise not to to be water tourists but to experience life as others live. And luckily for us, Covid struck while we were in a place that is like what we had at home. Weather wise, traffic wise, supply wise and tennis wise.

Oh there are differences. Australians drive on the side of the road that feels odd. I’ve gotten in the wrong side of the car looking for the steering wheel a couple of times. People drive the wrong way around- Round Abouts. Round abouts, those circles at intersections where there are no lights. Some words have similar meanings and others like “Fanny” are verboten. Luckily when I used it once, a nurse I knew came up to me and whispered what in the local culture fanny refers

Epoxy Varnish Removed

Signature Finishes Epoxy Varnish removed

to. To help one understand, it is the slang for a little kitten – part of the female anatomy.

Needs to be cleaned up and Powder Coated

So we plod on. I’ve ordered some new parts for the rigging. They’re at the shippers for posting them to Aus. We’ve taken the Sailomat wind vane apart and those parts are at the sandblasters and powder coaters. We’re having a new memory foam pad made for our new aft bedding. We plan on three new foam cushions made for our sea berth in the main salon and then I get to make new sets of crew covers. We work a bit each week on the teak. The idea is to have the exterior teak Varnish completed when we leave here.

If all goes well, if the governments around the world get their act together, if Covid is under control, we will be heading North and back to the tropics; next winter in Australia. Remember now, cruisers plans are written in the sand at low tide.

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Chain Galvanized – Done!

September 22nd, 2021
Looks a little ....bad

What she looked like after 8 years

The anchor chain project…. complete. We hauled the main chain up to Bundaburg for new galvanizing and what a job they did. Excellent! Approx $1 buck per lb. It actually came back looking shiny (almost)

We carried the chain in the passager footwells

A lot of extra weight.

and like new. Yep, it took two trips. We did however make mini vacations out of the trips. W/ found one wonderful AirBnB and another that was only a place to sleep.

Returning the chain to the boat required two carts. Same as from the boat to the car. We used cardboard and plastic to protect the

The chain markers we use

This tells us how much chain we have out of the boat.

upholstery and loaded it in the middle of the vehicle. Once returned to the boat we laid it out on the dock and added colored webbing to the links every 25’. These small webbing pieces sewn on a link last forever and run fine through the chain gypsy. I can’t tell you enough how great they are. The down side is that the company we purchased them from at a boat show no longer sells the kits. 🙁

One key ingredient all boaters need to do is to secure the bitter end of the chain. Too often I hear of some newbee who lost their anchor rode/chain while out for the days adventure. Most likely

Chain Stopper

Teak Donut connects to the bitter end

an adventure they never wanted. I’ve actually found lost anchors while snorkeling. Sometimes there would even be barnacles growing on the anchor rode or chain by the time I discovered it.

To save your anchor and your day, take some small line (1/4” 5 or 6mm ought to be good), strong enough that it will hold the chain and anchor as dead weight. Run the line out of the chain locker a fair bit on deck, double it and add a few cm’s to it. Next there ought to be a hole, or slit in a bulkhead or major structural member for this line to be attached to. I don’t attach mine directly to the bulkhead. Instead I made a teak donut. I loop the line through the donut and back on itself making a secure connection. Run the double line through the bulkhead up and out the chain pipe. The reason I use a donut is that if somehow the bulkhead fails the donut will stop at the chain pipe and stop. Also, using a long enough line, should I need to cut it, the end of the chain will pass over the gypsy and hang by the line. I can then cut the line. And last; if the fecal material hits the fan as it did for us in Suva, Fiji, letting the chain rip out , the line will snap. Then you’ll have a speedy exit

Only cast off your chain on purpose… and I hope you never need to.

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Working On Website … and..

September 12th, 2021

Well, boat work has been slowly progressing. W/ and I have been diligently

Ready for the final Epoxy Teak protection

working away on the new Teak coating. And it is looking … great. The one big caveat is that our work time in application is about 20 minutes. So, we do what we’ve always done on the boat… baby steps. Eventually we will get there.

In the off time I’ve been working on the web site. I think it will actually display and work fine now on tablets and phones. Although the pages have a great deal of images and phone screens for my part are so damn small.

I’ve also added some new galleries: the Chesapeake, some of our history in the Bahamas, and our two visits to Columbia.

I’ll try to add more galleries as our time permits. And with Covid still having travel in the world shut down for cruisers I’m seeing time in my future.

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A Little Worry

August 30th, 2021
I’ve been working on the website and think I have it in pretty good shape. Updated a great deal and cleaned up more. But, as time is not infinite for us humans I’ve not made a lot of progress on the boat. Yes, the large awning is completed and W/ and I have made inroads on the teak. Some parts are completed and others in process. If the Signature Finish was in good shape we’ve stayed with that. Hey, we had some material still good on the boat and those that know me, know I don’t love to throw much of anything away. Those pieces will wait to be stripped and completed in another 12-18 months.
 
Some of the new finish looks great but the larger areas we are still learning how to deal with the epoxy coating. I’ll share the process with you in the next few updates.
 

One Zinc is past due.

And, most important to me; we have replaced the zincs on the boat. I was getting a bit worried that in the marina I would be out of metal protection below the waterline. A diver was cleaning a boat near by and I asked about replacing them. For $75 Aus he replaced two of them. Personally, I don’t want to dive in the marina water and as the water is rather opaque with sharks that have visited boats in the marina, I felt it would be in my interest to pay someone.

 
Luckily, both zincs, the shaft zinc and the prop zinc were still there. Zincs to be replaced when they reach 1/2 that has disappeared. The shaft was about 60-70% gone, the prop was only about 20%. Whew. I dodged a bullet there. On to something new to be concerned about. 🙂
 
A few projects left. I’ve ordered new cones for the Hayn fittings but haven’t received them yet. Don’t even think they’re shipped yet. Not good. The chain we dropped off today for re-galvanizing. Will pick back up in a week to ten days. In removing the chai, I discovered the anchor windlass isn’t wired correctly. I moved the solenoid when we replaced the refrigeration system. I moved the Exeltech Inverter and all the wiring around it. Something new to check out. I have some LEDs to add to the engine room lighting and then we’ll be close to cruising again. That and when the world gets its head around fixing the Covid mess.
 
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Awnings…

August 21st, 2021

Time Does Fly

I’ve wanted to blog once per week but already see I’m past two! 🙁 We’ve been working like crazy on the awning and epoxy /varnish teak cover. Well, let me clarify that statement. We’ve been working cruiser crazy. As cruisers we try to put in 20 hours / week of boat work. For us, we’ve found 20 hours works to keep the boat functioning and our life aboard comfortable. We’ve actually been doing a bit more lately. All this while maintaining some social connections and exercise (playing tennis).

Playing tennis does tire us out – a bit. The Aussie social tennis style is to play without the normal 90 sec break every two games. And the groups like to play straight through the morning; somewhere between 3 to 5 sets. As I said; with few breaks. Thus many afternoons as we return to the boat there is no desire to start new or continue a project. Some of those days slide by.

Other times are full on. We get out the sewing machine, a beefy Sailrite zig zag and begin work on modifying the awning. The awning was brand new 5 years ago and we never used it. I was waiting for our old awning to blow out. After 13 years it never did. I had some chafe and it was getting brittle in places. Yet it still held together. We did try to take it down if the winds exceeded 25 kts. On a cruising boat we like to extend the life of a product to the fullest. Sometimes even more, finding a new purpose for it or to use parts elsewhere. Anyway…. the new awning sat for 5 years. The old awning was getting to be a PITA because we had changed our mainsail storage system. That and the fabric was getting too brittle. We added a Stack Pack with Lazy Jacks in Fiji. To use the old awning we needed to release the lazy jacks and drag them to the end of the boom. (Lazy Jacks help to store the sail as the sail is lowered.) . The old awning sat over the boom. The new awning had been sewn like the old one; before we made the switch to a Stack Pack and Lazy Jacks. That switch was forced because in NZ we had a new sail made with full battens.

To change the new awning we needed to split it down the middle. Each side would attach to the top of the Stack Pad with a Keder Track. New shorter poles would rest in the boom and hold the awning taut. If all works well we will again have shade while anchored in the tropics. And I have checked out temps before. There is a 20º F difference on the deck under the awning vs outside the shade of the awning.

Modified Main Awning

Attaching the track to the awning sounds simple. Not quite. Moving pieces of the awning the length of the boom around in the boat makes Twister look easy. All the forward attachment points on the awning would change. The after piece would be different because the boom is now centered on the boat with the awning up. Sewing / moving / rotating 10 meters of Regatta fabric in the boat was NOT a bucket of joy. One day we hauled the awning up to the community room/lounge. There we spent all day remaking attachment points and adding a new end.

So far, it is looking good. Good enough that we can get back to the epoxy / varnish job at hand.

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ps  I hope to have the new website up and functioning with in the week. I’ve been cleaning up all the links and fixing pages. From there I will then begin to add more content. Of course… for the nitty gritty on the cruising life… this blog is it.

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Back Together… Almost

August 1st, 2021

Putting it all back together was a step forward, wait, step forward, wait process. We would paint an area with primer, wait for it to dry, then paint with engine paint. After it dried I was able to put on one more part. In shops they would put all the parts on, and spray the entire engine. Manufacturers are able to rotate it, get under, turn it to get in the small places, and all the while spray. At manufacturing facilities they electrically charged the paint and the engine. All the paint ends up attracted to the engine and goes where it belongs. On a boat; not so much. I used a brush and sometimes a roller on the bottom of the oil pan. There wasn’t much room between the oil pan and the engine sump. That often required a couple of days to cover, and avoiding getting more paint on my arms than the oil pan. I would paint, let dry, take a mirror and scout the area for what I missed, then paint again. The pan itself required three times to cover it all. More detail are on the April 25, 2020 post.

While this was happening we began the refrigeration removal. In an older post I discussed the removal of the holding plates. With that completed we began to remove all the Copper tubing and connections. Of course care was needed to remove any pressurized refrigerant left in the system. Yet, as I indicated before I was always dealing with a leak and could never trace them all down. Thus there wasn’t enough refrigerant left in the system to be dangerous. As I was removing parts I discovered two connections that were suspect. I had never found them leaking prior. One was in the engine driven compressor line. The Copper tubing slipped when I was first installing it. For a decade there was a poor seat with the double furled Swedge Lok fittings. Another suspect spot was in the DC side on one of the expansion valves. Thus W/ and I spent a couple of days pulling all the Copper out and cutting off the ends. I saved the Swedge Loks but W/ wonders what for. Most likely they will go to the recyclers too. We hauled the Copper to the re-cyclers and the money reinvested in new hoses for the Perkins.

After we removed the Copper, expansion valves, and plates it was time to assess. The good news, look at

Bad Wood – Gone!

all the room we now have! The bad news, some of the wood where the Copper tubing ran through was soft, very, very soft. More wood under the expansion valves was so soft I could push my finger into it. Surprise, Surprise, Surprise. Damn!

This discovery added a speed bump to our refrigeration project. And a new project added to the list. Cut out the old soft wood, grind the old tabbing off and replace it all with new. As this project bounced around in my head W/ and I discussed other changes that might improve life aboard. What would we do with the old DC 5000 Compressor locker? We hope we could fit all three Engel compressors in the locker where the valves were. And to ensure that locker had enough room we could move the Exeltech Inverter. Inverters closer to the batteries – GOOD. The rest of the locker would be storage for staples.

More stuff to remove, and more to move. We pulled out the DC5000 compressor and the wiring. Tinned boat wire is always valuable and kept in boat spares. We too needed to remove the inverter. No inverter; no use of any 110 volt tools we have. Sometimes lady luck visits us. We had purchased a small ProSport portable inverter in the states. This might now be of some use. That has smallish inverter has worked flawlessly when we’ve needed. Every year for 10 years.

(Any future world cruisers reading this; ensure your boat is wired for both 220 and 110 volt systems. It is very, very costly to have a 110 volt product shipped to foreign lands. )

With everything removed we tackled the next project. Tenting, Grinding, replacing bad wood.

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Maintenance in Paradise

July 20th, 2021

While we were replacing the cooling system on the trusty diesel, we also researched refrigeration systems. In the end, Engel was what we settled with; three Engels. Their reputation was excellent. Evaporators are the achilles heal. Avoiding puncturing the evaporator the system might last 40 years. Well, that is, some Engels have worked for 40 years in the Australian Woop Woop (the Australian Outback). While not quite equal to the marine environment; it is harsh still.

Once the Perkins Bowman box arrived our boat (home) was knee deep with…stuff. Parts removed from the engine and parts to go on were everywhere. W/ tried to contain all of them under the dining table. The first order of business was to inventory and understand what each part was. Trans Atlantic Diesel has excellent support. With the kit they provided a video of the parts inventory and how to install. Tis always nice to have directions. They were around to answer any question by email. Luckily they only skipped one answer. Remember; this project is in the middle of Covid. Covid is not as bad in Australia as the US. Covid hit the US hard. And I did figure the answer out … eventually . TAD is forgiven. In the end; the words of my cruising brother flash florescent in my head: RTFM. Read the F——, Manual. 🙂

Before actual parts removal was an unwelcome task. And one that I really, really hate – draining the cooling system. We do have an engine sump but still, it is a wet, messy job. I will want to do something about upon rebuild. We drained the coolant, disposed of it at the marina’s waste disposal area and began removing parts.

As in most boat work projects ; when one project begins another one or two show their ugly head. Removing the parts, holding a new part in place to check it out, screamed out to us… PAINT THE ENGINE. Seriously! And the second project was that it is time to replace all the old hoses. Now that we can get to them much easier.

The parts removal went fine. We covered up areas that did not require any paint and took the parts to the recycling business. After all, it is good steel and some copper. There we picked up a few bucks dedicated to a cold one. Every part removed that would be reused, was cleaned and set aside. The engine was much, much smaller now.

We began to clean the engine. First was to hand wash with a degreaser. After which we cleaned with Alcohol and Acetone. Then we applied a primer. The engine changed from mottled Blue, to Grey, and to shinny Blue again. This job was HUGE! Once we painted an area we couldn’t keep working in the engine room. We needed to wait for the primer to dry, then clean another area and paint another part. I wasn’t spraying the beast. I didn’t want overspray getting into the living quarters nor covering any other area of the engine compartment.

At this time we checked the weather to ensure good weather while we were replacing the deck drain hose. One set of hoses had exceeded its working life. It was the cockpit drain. I now have easier access to it. We replaced it at break neck speed. . The next couple of weeks called for cleaning and painting the engine. The majority before putting – re-installing any parts.

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I Don’t Get It! (Rant)

July 10th, 2021

What is it with males and testosterone? It is blowing like stink out today. I mean a near gale. Three boats slithered into the harbor all with guys at the helm. The women aboard where the deck apes (not my nomenclature but sailors in general). Yes, the physically weaker gendered individual is doing the heavier, harder work. Now the female sailing couples may not always be the weaker one. As a general rule; from my personal observations, she is.

If you are reading this you may be one of those arm chair cruisers that are dreaming of sailing the world. Please take note. Ask yourself and your partner these questions: 1) Who is the strongest one, 2) who can throw a line farther, and 3) who can reach / stretch the furthest.

The strongest member of a sailboat needs to be doing the heavy lifting. Pick up the anchor. Who can do it? Anchors are dead weight; Can your partner lift the anchor? The person on the deck needs to move any gear at a moments notice. . Fenders are not heavy. With a wind and short time, one needs to move quickly and get around natural boat obstructions. Moving a sail out of the way is not easy. On a cruising boat sails can be heavy and cumbersome.

Second. Throw a line. Again, I’m not being misogynistic here. Men have spent their lives throwing things. Balls, rocks, paper; anything a boy can pick up and throw they most likely have. They’ve grown quite good at it. Need to throw a 12 mm line 25 feet. Ask your partner to do that and see how far it gets. Most boats don’t carry a monkeys fist aboard for such situations. Tis a good idea, but still the deck ape needs to throw accurately, throw far and then haul and cleat a line lickitty split. Have a contest.

And third, who can jump the farthest? Stretch the farthest? Push something away from the boat? That person needs to be the deck ape. Do the test; 2 out of three wins the privilege of managing the deck when docking or anchoring.

Guys, if you want to go cruising, if you want to be successful, protect your boat and your marriage / partnership. Give up the helm. Spend some time teaching your partner how to manage the helm. Support them enrolling n a course to learn boat handling and how to manage the throttle.

On a side note; I watched a man at the helm of a power yacht. Big guy! Captain! In control! (Yes sarcasm here). The boat was I would guess at a min 30,000 lbs. Twin diesels. As they were docking his partner stepped to

Wendy at the Helm

the dock to cleat a line. As she was cleating a line he thought to nudge the boat astern with the engines. 100’s of horsepower pulling the boat a couple of inches. She was laying the line on the cleat and had her fingers between the cleat and the line. At the exact same moment he slipped the yacht into gear, for 1 second! Needless to say 3 to 4 crushed fingers were the result. An ambulance was immediatley called. She was in shock. If that would have occurred in any foreign port it would have been worse. I don’t know if the marriage survived. Either way I doubt she ever got on a boat with him again. One cardinal rule in any relationship; don’t hurt your mate! Be a real man, teach your partner how to manage the boat from the helm and you, you be the deck ape. End of rant.

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